CAIRO: An Egyptian tradition of painting the homes of Hajj pilgrims with religious verses and images continues to withstand the passage of time.
The pilgrimage season sees calligraphers and painters busy sketching the journeys of worshippers on the front walls of houses in villages, towns and cities throughout the country.
Each artist uses their own unique style to portray modes of transport such as camels, planes and ships, holy sites like the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and passages from the Qur’an.
Ahmed Sayed Ahmed, 30, is one of the most well-known calligraphers in the Ghouria area of central Cairo, where he has worked for more than 15 years.
He told Arab News that the decoration process began with painting walls white to create a clean canvas for the artwork which usually included the name, gender and age of the person performing the pilgrimage.
Gamal Al-Arabi, another calligrapher and painter from Cairo, said that the tradition was still popular among Egyptian Muslims. Raised in Abnoub in Assiut governorate, he studied Arabic calligraphy for two years in Cairo and later traveled to Saudi Arabia where he worked as a calligrapher and painter.
He said that the pilgrimage season was one of the most important occasions on a calligrapher’s calendar with Hajj pilgrims hiring them to write and draw on their homes.
“In some desert villages they draw the camel, for example, and pilgrims around the Kaaba or during prayer. Recently, the majority of drawings involve ships and planes, but paintings of the Kaaba and the sacred house of God are fundamental,” Al-Arabi added.
He pointed out that his favorite fonts for Islamic inscriptions were diwan and rekea because they were easy to read.